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Your Valentine

In the week running up to this St. Valentine’s day, I have been wading through the pink and fluffy high-street to rediscover Valentine’s original sentiment.

Valentine was a priest near Rome in 270 A.D. He was said to have performed clandestine marriages for soldiers (who were forbidden to marry) and to have given out cut-out parchment hearts to Christians, in this time of persecution, to ‘remind them of God’s love’. Valentine was sentenced to death by Roman Emperor Claudius II for refusing to convert to Roman Paganism. Whilst imprisoned he healed Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer. An embellishment to this legend stated that before his execution he sent a card to Julia, signed from ‘your Valentine’. Skip forward one and a half millennia and we find the first reference of St Valentine’s day in it’s more contemporary association with ‘romantic love’ Chaucer 1382

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
["For this was on Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."]

In 1797 ‘The Young Man’s Valentine Writer’ was published which contained numerous verses for the sentimental gentleman , unable to compose his own, to use. Also at that time ‘mechanical valentines’ which were printed cards were starting to be produced. Paper valentine’s, which were ornate offerings crafted from lace and ribbon, gained popularity through the 19th century and with the development of the postal system the anonymous delivery of these sentiments became possible.

And so there you have it from the sentiments of a condemned man, through poetic love and purchasable verses, swathed in ribbon and lace, to today’s pink and fluffy high-street. So what have we learned? Firstly that it even without a looming death sentence, sometimes we need to express our feelings to the ones we love, and that St. Valentine’s day has been a celebration of love for 6 centuries.

Should you feel your love precipitating into a physical form, you can be sure to find it in Podarok.

She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.
Edmund Spenser (1590)
February 11, 2013 by Andrey Pronin
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